Jul 13, 2014

Homophobia at the Fashion Institute of Technology

The Fashion Institute of Technology is at 227 West 27th Street in Manhattan, in the heart of Chelsea, a few blocks from the Eagle, the Barracuda, the Dave Barton Gym, and lots of other gay venues.

And it teaches fashion design, one of the most gay-friendly businesses in the world.

Who would have thought that I would encounter bare, biting, seething homophobia there?

In 2003?

I was living in Florida, and flew north to NYC for a sociology conference.


At conferences, you go to "sessions" on a specific topic.  Each has four or five presenters, who "read" their papers, actually just talk about their research projects (only the most boring actually read them).   It's polite to stay for the whole session, even if the presentation you're interested in comes first.

In  this session, I wanted to hear a paper on "The Sociology of Alice in Wonderland."  

But first, a presentation on dating.   The professor -- I'll call her Maxine -- tested sociobiology, the idiotic theory that we are attracted to traits that gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage.  For instance, all men are interested in women with big breasts because they are able to feed more children, thus allowing our ancestors a greater likelihood of passing on their genes.  All women are attracted to men with big muscles, because they can fight off saber-tooth tigers better, thus giving them a greater likelihood of living to reproduce.

It's idiotic.  Some cultures don't value big breasts or big muscles. Here's Elmo Lincoln, the first movie Tarzan.  Not at all muscular, yet the "epitome of male beauty" of the era.

Even if the culture values big breasts or big muscles, some heterosexuals aren't attracted to them.

And...guess what?  Some women aren't interested in men at all, and some men aren't interested in women.

Sociobiology is hogwash.

But Maxine liked it, and so did the colleagues or friends who came to hear the presentation.  For her research project, she showed college men pictures of women with big and small breasts, and college women pictures of men with big and small muscles, and asked which one they would want to date.

My hand shot up.  "How did you determine that they were all heterosexual?"

She stared at me, not comprehending.  "Well...these were all college students."

"Some men are gay," I told her.  "Even college men.  They wouldn't be interested in dating either type of woman, right?"

"Well...um..." She had clearly never thought of the possibility that any of her research subjects might be gay, not until this moment.  "I just wanted to test sociobiology.  Men are attracted to women with big breasts because..."

"But what if they aren't into women at all?  What does sociobiology say about gay men?"

I knew full well what sociobiology said -- gay men are "mistakes," their brains somehow short-circuited, so they believe that they are women.

Yes, students are really being taught that, at real universities.

But I wasn't prepared for the vitriol with which the audience -- all professors of sociology -- informed me of the fact:

"Your question is specious. Homosexuality is a modern perversion.  It didn't exist in ancient times."
"Homosexuals can't reproduce, so they're evolutionary dead ends."
"And a waste of space."
"Even animals know the difference between male and female."
One guy just yelled out "They're freaks!"


At that point I left, not waiting around to hear about Alice in Wonderland.

I felt like I had gone through the looking glass myself.

And I suggest thinking twice before enrolling in Homophobia State...um, I mean the Fashion Institute of Technology

See also: 50% of College Professors Think That You're a Deviant.